As Q’Straint’s national training manager, Darren Reaume works every day on educating various stakeholders on the many benefits of safe and efficient wheelchair transportation technology.
But recently, WC18 – the standard for wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint systems (WTORS) used in motor vehicles – has been a special focus for Reaume. He pointed out that many American school districts and departments of education have adopted WC18 as their standard for securement equipment on new bus procurements. While National Minimum School Bus Standards — which were revised just before WC18 went into effect — use the older SAE J2249 standard, Reaume said WC18 is “now the legally and industry-recognized ‘best practice’ standard.”
For Mobility Management, Reaume answered three questions about WC18.
Q: What is the current status of WC18?
Reaume: The National Congress on School Transportation writing committee has stated that WC18 will be reviewed as part of the 2020 update [of the National Minimum School Bus Standards]. In the meantime, school districts and transportation providers concerned with reducing their liability and providing the safest equipment for their passengers should proactively specify that their securement equipment on new vehicle purchases meet the WC18 standard.
Q: Are there any challenges or issues with wheelchair tie-down training?
Reaume: The combination of WC18 securement equipment with WC19 wheelchairs with a crash-tested lap belt is light years easier and safer than previous wheelchair securement. However, as fleets slowly make the switch to WC18, transportation providers will need to train their drivers to recognize which vehicles have WC18-compliant securements and can take advantage of the easier securement of WC19 chairs, and which have older, non-compliant securement equipment and require the operator to continue to use the full occupant restraint even when transporting WC19 chairs with an integrated lap belt.
Q: What is the availability of wheelchair-anchored lap belts from Q’Straint?
Reaume: Q’Straint manufactures these belts for the wheelchair manufacturers only, to be used on the WC19 crash-tested wheelchair models they offer. With the standard now in effect for over a year, wheelchair manufacturers are offering more WC19-compliant chairs than ever before. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is a great resource for discovering which makes and models of wheelchairs are now available with a wheelchair-anchored lap belt.